By Kurt Smith
Learn more about Kurt on NerdWallet’s Ask An Advisor
Do you think you and your partner are completely faithful to one another? There’s more than just physical and emotional infidelity to consider — there’s also financial infidelity.
Financial cheating isn’t always obvious. Often we omit details or issues with our finances because they seem harmless, we think it’s something our partner shouldn’t have to worry about, or we’re nervous about discussing them. But being dishonest about money is bad for your relationship. It could be a symptom of bigger issues, and it will lead to much bigger problems with communication and trust.
What constitutes financial infidelity? Here are five ways you could be cheating on your partner.
1. Hiding purchases
“I’ve always had these shoes.” Do you buy and then hide purchases from your partner so your spending won’t be spotted? If your partner notices your new outfit or shoes or gadget, you say you’ve had it for a while or are borrowing it from a friend. For instance, I knew a woman who really wanted a Vitamix blender. Her husband wouldn’t agree to the $400+ price tag. So she bought one, used it each day, cleaned it out, and then hid it until she could tell him it was a prize she had won in a contest.
Being dishonest with money on these seemingly small matters can lead to deception and dishonesty in more important areas of your relationship. As hard as it can be, we need to fully disclose to our partner all of our spending.
2. Not sharing information about a pay cut or job loss
Some people are afraid of telling their partners when they have had their hours reduced or, worse, gotten laid off from work. We may think we will disappoint our partner with this news, so we’re tempted to hide it until we have a solution.
But relationships are partnerships in which we should share burdens and successes alike. When we do this we build trust and intimacy, which are two cornerstones of a happy relationship. Giving your partner the opportunity to support and encourage you could yield some surprising results.
3. Lying about how much you make
You may think your partner knows how much you make on an annual basis, but does he or she know the full picture? Are you also telling your partner about things like reimbursement checks, bonus payouts and other additional compensation that may not be included in your salary?
If you’re keeping this information secret, think about why you’ree doing it. Money is often used as a way to exercise power and control in a relationship, but it should be used as a resource, not a weapon.
4. Making big withdrawals without discussing them first
If you’ve been making large debits from your joint bank account without first conferring with your partner, this may be a sign of a bigger problem. When one partner does this, it usually points to more serious problems in the relationship. Does the partner have a secret gambling addiction? Is he or she having an affair or helping other family members out financially?
If you’re the one doing this, focus on the problem driving the withdrawals. Talk to your partner about what’s going on, and consider getting professional help and guidance on how to resolve the underlying problem.
5. Saving secret stashes
Whether you have a secret savings account or are stashing money in a drawer you know your partner will never open, it’s secrecy. Think about your motives for doing this. Are you saving to have an upper hand in the relationship? Are you saving to have financial independence from your partner? You should understand and address the root cause of this behavior, because whatever your reasons may be, secrecy isn’t healthy for your relationship.
Financial cheating is anything that involves keeping a secret or lying about money to your partner. Any amount of secrecy and dishonesty is unhealthy in a relationship and may well lead to bigger issues in the future; deception and omission are toxic to a relationship. Seek professional help if you and your partner are having problems talking honestly about how you both handle money — it’s critical to the health of your finances and your relationship.
This article also appears on Nasdaq.